IT'S been a worrying time for many parents across the county as they made the difficult decision on whether or not to send their children back to the classroom following weeks of home-learning due to the coronavirus crisis.

The phased re-opening of schools kicked-in on Monday, but it's not just parents who've been under pressure; staff and headteachers in East Lancashire have been feeling the strain too, and have been working extra hard to ensure the return to school runs as smoothly as possible.

Headteacher at Burnley's Whittlefield Primary, Helen Kershaw, said they've received daily updates from the government but it was often difficult to decide what to do for the best.

She said: "We've never closed. We've always been open for the children of key workers but we've had to make so many changes now more pupils are returning. And the advice changes daily.

"We've had no official guidance on how to actually set up the school for social distancing.

"There hasn't been any information saying 'this is what you're going to do and how you're going to do it'.

"All the measures we've put in place have been done by us.

"We're communicating via walkie talkies, keeping all the windows and doors open and make sure there's cleaning checklists in every toilet.

"There's hand sanitiser everywhere, and each classroom has a sink in it, and children are encouraged to wash their hands every hour, on the hour."

Mrs Kershaw said the coronavirus crisis had impacted every child and it was therefore important to re-introduce them to some kind of normality with their education before they had another six weeks off for the summer.

She said: "We're going to be doing lots of mental health and wellbeing work over the next few weeks.

"We'll be taking time to have discussions with the children, talking about their concerns, about what they see on the news and on social media, and how we can work through any anxieties they may have.

"Any time in school, whether it's four weeks or two, will be beneficial for the children.

"We're a huge family here and the wellbeing of our pupils is the most important thing to us. We just wish we had a bigger building so we could get all the kids back in.

"We are all doing the best we can to try and make things work.

"I just hope that we get some really clear advice from the government on what's going to happen in September, before we break for the summer."

Headteacher at St Antony's Primary in Blackburn, Heather McGowan said it had taken a lot of hard work and effort from her staff to make the school safe.

She said: "Our site supervisor, Mr Shaw, has been brilliant and has spent a lot of time putting signs up and making the areas safe and clean.

"We have PPE kits in each classroom, sanitising stations, we've painted love hearts on the ground outside which are two metres apart, we've painted murals on the walls and tried to make it as vibrant and inviting as we can.

"We have staggered lunch times and break times, and are trying to teach classes outside as much as possible.

"The children have adapted well to social distancing measures and are sticking to the two metre rule when coming in to school and while travelling around the building.

"And even though school is a lot different, they're getting on with things and adjusting to the new norm."